Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Roman Siege Equipment

My Roman Army continues to grow. I remember the first sets of Scorpions that I painted in the mid 1970s by Heritage Miniatures. I think back now to how primitive the figures looked compared to the lines that are available today. However they easily served 30 years with the Army before they were retired.

Over the last few years I have picked up a number of different packs of Roman Siege Equipment from a number of different manufacturers. I will begin with

Warlord Games

As I've blogged before, Librairie Donjon, a gaming shop in Montreal, brought in a number of packs of miniatures by Warlord Games. I thought it a fine opportunity to check out the quality of the figures, and at a great price. I paid in the realm of 40-60% to what the cost would have been to have ordered the figures directly.

Warlord Games offers a Roman War Machine Boxed Set. This consists of a large metal Ballista with crew and 2 metal Scorpions with crew.  I stress metal here, because Warlord Games also produce plastics, but so far not for this set.

Warlord Games Ballista and Crew

 Warlord Games Scorpion and Crew

One of the problems that I had with the DBA rule set was the base depth required by Scorpions and crew. Eighty millimeters was too much for my liking. Under the WRG 6th and 7th edition rules the depth of artillery was a minimum of 40mm to whatever was necessary to base the models. Thus I have decided to base the Scorpions on a 40mm deep base for WRG. I have another two Scorpions by Foundry that are situated on the 80mm deep elements. As you can see by the photos the 80mm depth works fine for the Ballista and below for the catapults.

Warlord Games Scorpions with Crew in Fortified Hilltop Camp

I chose to photograph the Scorpions on a fortified hill top. The hill was constructed by my friend Les, and came into my procession years ago. The pallisade is by Old Glory (OGSE-08), each set contains 2 styles of wooden stockades. In total 10 pieces, 5 of each style. I based 5 pieces of one style to give a fortified camp space. Each section of the camp can provide shelter to a 60mm x 40mm element. I placed some extra shields to cover the gaps. The stockade is straight and does not contain corner pieces.

The next unit is by Black Tree Designs. It is the IA1205 Onager (or Catapult) with Crew. Their website currently shows just two crew figures with the weapon but when I made my purchase I am sure that it came with three figures. It is delicate and I had problems attaching the sling at the end of the arm and ended up cutting some tin from a wine bottle to make one that works for me.

Black Tree Design IA1205 Onager and Crew

 The final two pieces are a Onager by Old Glory ( OGSE-04 Stone Thrower (popularly known as a catapult)) and a large Ballista. I do not know the company that produced this piece. Note: I had the same problem with the sling at the end of the throwing arm of the Old Glory Onager as I did with the piece by Black Tree Designs.

  Old Glory Onager( OGSE-04)

The crew figures are Late Romans by Old Glory. I believe they came in a pack of PLR-12 (4 Ballistas with Crews). I still have the Ballista/Scorpions and I have ordered additional crew figures from Black Tree Design. When I wrote to John at Black Tree he replied that  they'd cast up some figures on the side and let me know when they were ready. He estimated the cost at $1.50 a figure and they should be available in two weeks..

Ballista Unknown Make


  1. You can never go wrong with an Imperial Roman army. I like your hilltop fortified position and machinery. Those bolts were lethal!

  2. I have to agree with you there. It is my third Roman Army in 35 years. The first was an Airfix plastic army that was replaced by a mix of lead figures sometime in the mid 1980s. By the time 2005 rolled around it was time to retire the old veterans and get some of the latest figures available. I am almost finished painting them all.